Could ‘vaccine passports’ become required? Local expert says that would violate privacy laws

PITTSBURGH — It’s a race against time to vaccinate our communities, and many are asking what the future of travel and business look like.

Will vaccine passports be required to show you are immunized and less likely to spread COVID-19 to others?

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Attorney Phil DiLucente told Channel 11 a so-called “vaccine passport” to travel or go into a business would violate HIPAA laws, potentially divulging medical conditions or treatments.

“Constitutionally speaking, I think it would be an invasion of privacy,” DiLucente said. “We’re dealing with privacy rights, potential invasion of privacy, whether that can be considered a search and seizure.”

On Monday, White House Chief Medical Director Dr. Anthony Fauci said the federal government will not mandate vaccine passports.

However, DiLucente said that doesn’t mean private businesses won’t either. Individual businesses might decide to require them.

As restrictions are relaxed and the vaccine rollout continues, demand for travel is up. That’s where the idea of a vaccine passport came from – a universal way to show you’re protected against COVID-19 and so are others.

On Easter Sunday, more than 1.5 million people were screened by the TSA at airports throughout the country.

Last year at this time right when the pandemic hit and shutdowns started, TSA only screened about 120,000 people.

If a vaccine passport were to become a requirement for customers -- on planes or in businesses -- DiLucente is certain that courts would get involved.